HOUSTON The success stories extend beyond the raw numbers, although the totals rattled off by Jimmie Lee Solomon, executive vice president baseball development, Major League Baseball, are impressive.
In the five years since Major League Baseball opened its first urban youth academy in Compton, Calif., that program has produced 175 graduates that have earned college baseball or softball scholarships, and an estimated 70 prospects selected in the First-Year Player Draft. Two graduates, Mariners outfielder Trayvon Robinson and Angels first baseman Efran Navarro, made their big-league debuts last season.
Sometimes the impact of what Major League Baseball is striving to accomplish within inner cities is more tangible. When graduates who have yet to parlay baseball into an occupation but are continuing to play the game they love on an advanced stage return and instruct at the academy, Solomon is struck by the influence of their mere presence.
"They can connect with the kids in ways th...